I always struggle with salads in the winter when I’m normally thinking about warm soups and comfort food. But, salads should still be part of your meal plan and finding ways to use seasonal winter vegetables and fruits in salads can really help make something easy and delicious. This Acorn Squash Salad uses some of my favorite winter vegetables and is totally different than salads I would make at other times of the year.
While I give some ideas for add-ins in this roasted acorn squash salad, it is flexible enough to be changed up depending on what you can find.
Add it to your menu plan this week and give it a shot!
Roasting Acorn Squash
I like roasting acorn squash because the skin is thin enough that you can slice the acorn squash into thin squash wedges and not even bother with peeling them.
Preheat your oven to 400˚F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper for easier clean up.
Slice a medium acorn squash into thin wedges after scooping out the seeds. I like to split the squash down the middle through the stem and then slice off the stem and make your slices down the squash.
Place the squash slices in a single layer and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and some smoked paprika. Roast the squash for 15 minutes and then drizzle on the maple syrup and roast for another 10-15 minutes until the squash is really tender and shriveled in places.
If you add the maple syrup too soon, it will burn in the oven!
Let the acorn squash slices cool before adding them to your salad.
Acorn Squash Substitutes
You really should be able to find acorn squash this time of year, but if you can’t find acorn squash you can substitute delicata squash, which is a pretty easy substitute. If you want to substitute something like butternut squash, you can, but instead of doing thin slices, you should peel and cube the squash and roast it as cubes and then add it to the salad.
Acorn Squash Salad Ingredients and Add-ins
Besides the acorn squash for this salad, I like to add the following items, all of which could be easily substituted.
- Arugula. I like to use baby arugula as a base for this salad which is nice and peppery. You could use baby spinach also.
- Goat cheese. For a creamy, tangy bite, I like some crumbled goat cheese in the salad.
- Sunflower seeds. For a nice crunchy element, I like to add some seeds. You could also add pumpkin seeds, pecans, or even chopped pistachios.
- Pears. I like adding some juicy pear slices to this salad, but it’s not an essential ingredient. If you can’t find them ripe and tender, you can leave them out.
- Pomegranate seeds. They are really in season right now and are easy to toss into the salad bowl.
Making the Vinaigrette
The salad dressing I like for this acorn squash salad is a simple vinaigrette that I shake together in a jar with a lid. The ingredients are a simple list of olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and maple syrup. The syrup is a switch-up on the sweetener for vinaigrette but the flavor goes well with the acorn squash.
You could of course substitute many things in this dressing. You could use honey instead of the syrup or add some apple cider vinegar for a little more tangy version.
You could also use this grapefruit vinaigrette in this salad.
Vegan, Dairy-free, and Gluten-free options
This salad only has one dairy ingredient which is the goat cheese. To make this dairy-free and vegan, just leave out the goat cheese.
Other good news is that there really isn’t anything in this salad that has gluten in it so it should be naturally gluten-free, but you should also check the packaging, especially on nuts which can sometimes be packaged in a facility with other items.
Storing this Salad for later
If you are storing this roasted acorn squash salad for later, it does keep pretty well for a few days. It’s best if you can store it without the vinaigrette so it doesn’t get soggy and the pears will probably turn brown if you store them in the fridge pre-sliced.
Other than those items though, the salad should keep really well in the fridge for 2-3 days.
Roasted Acorn Squash Salad
- 1 medium acorn squash, sliced thin
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- Pinch of smoked paprika
- 5 ounces baby arugula
- 1 Pear, sliced thin
- ½ cup Pomegranate seeds
- 3 ounces Goat cheese
- ¼ cup Sunflower seeds
- Sprouts, optional
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ½ lemon, juice only
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven 400˚F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice off stem from squash and remove seeds. Then slice into thin slices. Lay out on the baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper, and paprika. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove and drizzle with syrup and return to the oven for 10-15 minutes. Let cool before adding to salad.
- For dressing, add ingredients to a jar and shake well until the dressing is combined. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.
- Assemble salad with a base of arugula. Top with sliced pears, sprouts (optional), pomegranate seeds, roasted squash slices, sunflower seeds, goat cheese, and a drizzle of dressing. Serve immediately. Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days.